ComTech: IT Support Stirling

How not to move to the cloud

ComTech: IT Support Stirling

The cloud is great.  You can access all of your documents from anywhere, backups are stored offsite, applications can be run from the internet etc but and it is a BIG but you need to think the whole process through before you implement a cloud solution.  If you don’t you could end up in a right pickle.  This was evident with a client I had a meeting with last week.

The client has 10 employees, 5 of which are office based while the rest work remotely throughout Scotland.  They need all employees to have access to company files and to save any changes automatically.  The owner likes to dabble in his tech and decided to implement Dropbox for Business as he currently uses this for his own personal files.  I have implemented Dropbox for Business to a number of my clients and it does work well but in this case it would not be a good solution for his business.  If you read on you will understand why this is the case.

Problem No 1

Dropbox for Business costs $795 per year for upto 5 users.  The client didn’t check the limit on the number of users and so thought 10 users would cost the same as 5.  For 10 users it cost him $1420 per year.  Not checking the fine print cost him a lot more money than he had anticipated.

Problem No 2

Everyone needs access to the same files at the same time.  Dropbox can’t handle this as everytime you change the file locally it is synced with the online servers.  If everyone has access at the same time it would be difficult to keep track of which version of the file is current.  A vpn like LogMein Hamachi only allows one person to access a file at the same time hence no current version issues.  This would have been my suggestion to the client.

Problem No 3

The owner set himself up as the admin for Dropbox for Teams thinking he would be able to see everyone else’s files.  This is not the case.  As the admin you can set passwords, quotas etc but only the team member can see their individual files unless they share them.

Problem No 4

The office has 5 MB of broadband speed which could just about cope with the constant Dropbox synchronization but the Cat 5 cables can’t!! All office computers are connected to a 10/100 switch but all the cables are Cat 5 (10 Meg).  The owner didn’t understand why the network had started to grind to a halt since he setup Dropbox.

In this instance Dropbox (or any other online backup solution) doesn’t really work on its own.  What the client should have implemented was a central server which everyone in the office had access to coupled with a vpn solution (something like LogMein Hamachi) so remote workers could access the files they needed.  Dropbox could have been installed on the server to backup the files online rather than be used for file sharing as it was before.  The switch and cables should also be upgraded to Cat 6 and 10/100/1000 allowing for more bandwidth and if possible the client should also switch broadband provider to get a faster download speed (if possible).

The client in his haste implemented a solution which was not ‘fit for purpose’ and ended up costing him and his company a lot of money (and time).  I am still waiting to see if my recommendations will be implemented.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter



One thought on “How not to move to the cloud

  1. CAT5 ….. cable and associated connections can run at 1000Mbs so, it won’t be the network cabling that’s not able to cope …. maybe the switches/hubs but even then, 5Mbs ADSL shouldn’t be swamping a 10Mbs Ethernet …. (maybe it was coax) … sounds like a really dodgy network or maybe CLOUD just doesn’t work for ‘slow’ ADSL connections. It could just be the Dropbox file synchronisation couldn’t work on a 800kbs ADSL upload speed …. try limiting the available synchronisation bandwidth t0 100kbs and things might start to work better.
    From my (albeit limited) exposure to ‘cloud’ it’s a long way from being usable for anything more than a 2 or 3 person outfit on ADSL. Maybe when we get fibre to the premises and can all have 10/50/100 Mb connections it’ll actually work…..yea , right …. not in Scotland for another 10 years …

    Bring back Groove !

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